by Theodore Dalrymple (June 2011)
Revenge, said Lord Bacon, who was not himself completely foreign to the impulse, is a kind of wild justice, which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. Furthermore, he says, it does the revenger harm, psychologically, for he goes on to say: This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. more>>>
"I may forgive a wrongdoer for what he does to me, but I have no right to forgive him for what he does to you: only you have that right, a right that, incidentally, is not a duty. For me to forgive the person who wrongs you is a form of self-indulgence or, worse still, moral exhibitionism. Hence, no one, and certainly not the law (whose duties are different from those of individuals), has the right to forgive the perpetrator of the crime except the victim..."
I've said the same thing myself on many an occasion --- and suspect that it is the unarticulated view of the majority of ordinary people. ...Yet why is it that despite this, the country ends up run by salaried poseurs whose 'ethics' are showcased at the expense of others? (Chief among the latter being the victims of criminals let off with derisory punishments.)
I would like to see a Dalrymple essay on the concept of punishment itself --- it is an idea which has been under sustained attack for some time.
"This is tangential, but does anybody know what Dalrymple makes of Jesus's claims to forgive sins?"
"Jesus seems fundamentally morally serious- far more so than those of our modern politicians who take it upon themselves to apologise for crimes they did not commit-apologising for sins when you are not the sinner seems to be in the same stream of moral exhibitionism as granting forgiveness for sins when you are not the sinned-against."
Interesting: you may have indirectly answered my earlier question... Jesus was able to forgive people who sinned against others because He knew He was God. And similarly, the members of our ruling elite are able to pardon criminals because...? ;)
The good doctor presents an ethical dilemma. First, though, we should agree that an evil act, done to promote a good end, is still evil.
On the other hand, an ancient Greek observed that there are men who are human in shape only. I submit that the acid-thrower is one of those, and therefore any punishment, no matter how severe, is warranted.
I further submit that this young monster is a prduct of his environment - Middle Eastern culture and Islam, and that that envirnment is not without its own blame. (I can't answer for the British monster. There may be a subculture that holds that whatever I do is all right.).
Further, the notion of punshment as deterrent is rather weak, else humanity would have been free from violence for the last millennia or two. I believe we should cocentrate on punishment as a means of preventing the miscreant from doing it again. Capital punishment may be too barbaric; life imprisonment - our only alternative to exile - would be appropriate.
In the first cited case, in a cell whose walls and ceiling were covered completely with pictures of the victim.
You are all, including the good doctor for once, fundamentally unserious. the victim should be allowed to do as she wishes to this monster for whatever reason she wishes or no reason at all. the society in which both the victim and victimizer exist is not our weak and decayed post modern air conditioned palace. They live in a fearsome cave filled with horror. let her do whatever she wants, preferably without any pain killers and not just to his eyes. Let his face drip to his knees. It wouyld be both justice and revenge, as wll as a possible lesson to his fellows.
"...I may forgive a wrongdoer for what he does to me, but I have no right to forgive him for what he does to you... ...For me to forgive the person who wrongs you is a form of self-indulgence or, worse still, moral exhibitionism."
This is tangential, but does anybody know what Dalrymple makes of Jesus's claims to forgive sins? I'm thinking of the things he said to the paralysed man let down through the roof and to the woman who came to him at a dinner party at a Pharisee's house.
Jesus seems fundamentally morally serious- far more so than those of our modern politicians who take it upon themselves to apologise for crimes they did not commit-apologising for sins when you are not the sinner seems to be in the same stream of moral exhibitionism as granting forgiveness for sins when you are not the sinned-against. Are we to conclude that Jesus was self indulgent or (worse) a moral exhibitionist? Or should we take the passages about his granting forgiveness to be basically unhistorical?
You'll probably have guessed that I'm a Christian, and so I think that neither of the options above are tenable, and that Jesus does have the authority to forgive sins. But I just wondered what the good doctor thought.
While we twist ourselves in knots over trifles, I now understand fully why the death penalty was once the punishment for almost everything. If you cannot live in society as a person, you need to be removed from it.
I remember the shock I had when I learned how feudal Japan dealt with any misbehavior: the instant death of the miscreant and his entire family, including babes at the breast, usually inflicted by the criminal himself on all those involved, prior to his own suicide. It seems barbaric to us, yet in World War 1, losing tens of thousands in a single morning by charging machine guns to no effect, never caused us to disembowel the foolish generals who ordered them.
The Japanese solution was effective. Contrast it with conjugal visits. Let's breed more criminals, and, while we're at it, let's have the current pack, while resting on the country's dime, build even more muscle to facilitate their criminal prowess. While our enlightened elites have made being a criminal a career choice, the exponentially expanding victim pool are screwed.
Whatever is required to stop this must be done. Besides, executions on TV would be the ultimate reality show. The ratings would be through the roof.
"My object all sublime..."
Colin Bower has it exactly right: let the victim direct the retribution--in whatever kind the victim directs, via the power of the state.
But not without the victim's timely contemplation; revenge is a dish best tasted cold.
Lord Bacon is incorrect--the crime unrevenged is the "green wound" which never heals, for those who believe in revenge, measure for measure.
And while T D's analyses and conclusions are nothing less than Olympian to this groundling, normally, the crime in question is too broad to be spanned by mere reason--some measure of heroic Olympian rage must be admitted to right the balance.
It is always a fundamental miscarriage of justice to allow the state to appropriate the crime. The crime is against the victim, not the state, and the victim should have the right to proportionate revenge against the perpetrator of the crime, and to inflict that punsihment himself or herself. In this respect, the victim must take on board real issues of revenge, punishment, mercy and forgiveness, and we would do away with the pathetic bleating of professional sympathisers with every class and kind of criminal. I agree with Theodore that the administration of acid eye drops into the perp's eyes is a dehumanising act, but I see no reason why the victim should not be allowed to undertake the task. Incidentally, I am totally against the eye for an eye justice that Theodore refers to, because it is no justice at all but the mere trading of organs; if someone takes one of my eyes aaginst my will, my sense of justice is only restored by my having the right to take both his eyes. I'm also against execution: I have never had a fear of being dead; when you're dead you can't regret anything. I say keep the perpetrators of heinous crimes alive, because for as long as they are alive, they can live to regret their crimes.
Yes, you have the best solution to the dilemmas posed by Dr Dalrymple.
I say, make the criminal work for the rest of his life as an indentured carer for his victim, who, in that society, is destined to a slow death. She's never going to be somewhat independent:and sustain herself:--let alone that women in her class are never "independent": no jobs for 'people with disabilities", no service dogs for the blind, no universities for the blind, but stigma and oprobium and suspicion everywhere.
Make the sub-human perp bring her food on the table by his work, cook for her, wash for her, take her to the outhouse or on errands or to doctor appointments. Make him literally help her wash (absolutely haram in Islam), care for her wounds, bound to be long-lasting.
Which makes me go back to Dr Dalrymple's question :"Do [cultural] circumstances alter cases?"
In this case, they do, not in the sense of allowing throwing acid in the perp's eyes, but in making the perp go through the stages of spite, hate, degradation, subjection, abomination and perpetual pain he inflicted on his victim, all brought about by the victim and perp's circumstances. The punishment envisaged by Lugo rehearses the culture and at the same time exposes it for what it is: an abomination.
As a father I would have to kill the bastard.
If the state refuses to provide justice, and indeed tramples on the sense of justice of decent citizens by refusing to punish malefactors, then ordinary citizens will increasingly take the law into their own hands.
As for acid-throwers, I think they should be promptly executed.
You have to consider the effect on society as it hears of this awful revengeful payback. It surely coarsens us and we incrementally lose some respect for life. I think better to simply put the fellow away for a long time or perhaps make him work for the victim as a sort of indentured servant.